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Living with Multiple Myeloma in Hyderabad , India . Random musings .


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Summer brings its own set of woes and sweet pleasures each year.

Rather than crib about the heat , one should enjoy the yummy stuff that nature provides during this season . Yes , its the fruits 🙂 .

Mangoes and Watermelons make a grand entry during the month of February and exit in June. These are the Summer months.

During Summer , in Hyderabad,  Jackfruit , Seema Chintakaaya / Jungle Jilebi , Figs and Palmyra fruit also make an entry. Unlike Mangoes and watermelons which are sold in almost every street corner , these are usually spotted only at the bigger farmer’s markets.

I make it a point to regularly visit the farmers markets , locally known as ‘Rythu bazaar’ , to get my fix 🙂

There was a time when the city dwellers could lay their hands on the Palmyra fruit when they visited their parents / grandparents who lived in villages and towns , far from the city. That’s where the Palmyra trees grow. These trees almost grow wild. They are hardy and don’t require any special care. I too would get to eat this Palmyra fruit when I visited my Grandparents village during peak summer.

There were times when I used to spot a hawker selling these in the city, but they would be the more mature ones which are hard ,rubbery and bland  instead of the tender , sweet and juicy ones. The hard ones  can upset the tummy.

This tender ,jelly like fruit has a cooling effect on the body , does some good for the digestive system and has several vitamins and minerals.

Since past few years I have been coming across vendors selling whole bunches of the fruit. We can pick the fruit of our choice and they would cut it for us. One can buy the whole fruit or get the pods removed.

These are whole bunches of the fruits.

This is how the fruit appears when the top part is carefully removed using a sharp sickle.

Each fruit has three pods.

The pods have a creamy brownish layer.

Remove the outer creamy brownish layer to reveal the translucent fleshy fruit.

Trying to remove the pods out of the fruit is tricky and not advisable as the fruit is easily bruised and the sweet juice is lost.

Hence it is preferable to  eat these directly from the whole fruit by using the thumb and digging into the tender juicy fruit .This is an art :))

This method ensures that the juice is intact.

I have fond memories of eating these sitting under the Palmyra trees in Granny’s village . We would reach the fields by 5pm, a guy nimbly glides up the tree along with a sickle and cuts off a few Bunches. They fall from a height of 15-20m with a thud.

He then expertly cuts them open revealing the white translucent fleshy pods.

Time to hold the fruit in the left hand and dig into the pulp using the thumb of the right hand and squeeze out the jelly along with the juice and quickly suck the juicy pulp with the mouth :)) . I know , it does sound gross :))

There is an easier method to dig into the tender fruit. Using a spoon to scoop out the pulp and the juice is quite simple and requires no mastery 🙂

Grab these if and when you come across them and enjoy the delicious fruit !!

 


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Multiple Myeloma, Symptoms

Multiple Myeloma is a condition when Plasma cells in the blood start misbehaving. These cells form antibodies , which fight infections. When these plasma cells undergo mutation in the DNA, they develop into antibodies which do not perform their job well and on top of that they do not die. They are supposed to die after doing their job well. This is called apoptosis. Every cell in the body dies after doing its job. When they don”t die and start accumulating in the blood  and inside the Bone marrow the condition is called Multiple Myeloma.

  • Low immunity
  • Anemia
  • Back pain
  • Pain in the feet and legs in general
  • Pain in the lower ribs and also just below the lowest part of the ribs on either side of the body
  • Feeling weak and lethargic
  • Always feeling sleepy or wanting to rest . Waking up early is difficult.
  • Suffering from frequent infections in the throat, stomach etc

These are the usual symptoms and were my symptoms as well , before I was detected with MM.

I always felt very weak. I would find it very difficult to wake up and get out of bed. I always wanted to sleep. I kept dragging myself to work . I was unable to stand for more than 10 minutes while I cooked. My feet would begin to ache and I had to sit down every 10 mins. I met several physicians in the last few decades. I also went for a complete health check up too. All of them recommended Iron supplements for my perennially low Hb count. I always took the course and felt good for a while and soon my symptoms were back. The cycle would repeat.

I frequently suffered from throat infections since I was a child and had to pop in a lot of antibiotics too. I also suffered from bronchitis as I am allergic to dust. This too could be due to low immunity. I kept telling my doctors that I frequently fall ill but none of them suggested any further investigations.

Many times I would be told to get a chest X-ray done as they suspected TB, but the result was always -ve.

I had also met an Ayurvedic doctor who checked my pulse . It is called ‘Nadi pariksha’. He prescribed a lot of medications too and said I was highly stressed and that I should do pranayama and meditate regularly.

My actual problem went undetected for decades.

I suffered a lot when I had my periods. They would always arrive early. Severe cramps ensured that I take a pain killer and was unable to go to work. I hated myself for being a girl :((

One day in 2011 , I slipped on the stairs and had an L5 compression fracture in my spine. My bones had become very weak. A normal healthy individual would not have been affected by that kind of a fall. Don’t know how and why the Orthopedic doctor did not suspect that something else could be wrong. He could have at least told me to get a test for calcium and Vitamin D done. I was told to use a cross shaped device for 3 months to heal my fracture.

Just after I recovered from my fracture , I collapsed and fell sick . I suffered from viral fever, throat and stomach infection simultaneously , started experiencing chills with fever in the evenings. A physician who had a clinic where we lived suggested I get blood transfusion as my Hb was 6 . We then decided to go to Apollo and get a second opinion. The Physician there suspected MM after a few preliminary tests.

A few tests like LFT, RFT and CBP can help in pointing towards MM.

A high ESR because of inflammation in the body. CBC Report gives the ESR value.

A high Serum Creatinine in RFT report.

Serum Globulin in LFT would also be beyond the limit.

Hb would also be low as per CBC report.

These are some of the parameters that can give away MM to a discerning physician.

Further tests including Bome marrow tests Electrophoresis will be done to confirm.

Thanks to Allopathy and Alternative treatments for giving me a second chance. I am actually living a healthier , productive and happier life after my Stem Cell Transplant followed by Ayurvedic treatment and proper diet.

So glad I got a second chance to tread this beautiful planet.

You too can !!

Have faith in the treatments and in yourself.


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Use of Turmeric / Curcumin in Indian Customs and Traditions , Health and Healing , Beauty treatments

Turmeric Vs Curcumin :

Turmeric is a root/rhizome, a golden-colored spice that belongs to the ginger family . Widely used in India for different purposes. The words Turmeric and Curcumin are usually used interchangeably but Curcumin is an extract from Turmeric root, which gives the yellow color to the spice and has several healing properties. Different methods are used to extract Curcumin from Turmeric. Turmeric contains various ”curcuminoids” and Curcumin is one of them. Curcumin is a whole Pharmacy in itself and is used to treat several health conditions. Extensive research is being carried out on Curcumin in the western world for its healing properties..

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This spice has always been revered in India since thousands of years. But ,it is very unfortunate that the healing properties are unknown to majority of the current generation and the knowledge is slowly getting lost. Hopefully the research that is being carried out in the western world will bring to light the potency of Turmeric and thereby heal the world.

Here is an attempt to describe how Turmeric has been in use since centuries in Indian Customs and traditions.

Hindu Customs and Traditions :

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A few drops of water is added to Turmeric powder which is then shaped into a small solid cone . During Hindu festivals this form is worshiped as ”Lord Ganesha” , the remover of all obstacles. It is a fact that none of us  wish to face any obstacles in whatever activity we do/take up. This is a method of reinforcing our will power and also to invoke the blessings of the almighty.

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During Fridays, festivals and other auspicious events, Turmeric paste is applied on the threshold of the main entry door of the house and all other doors that lead outside the house. This ensures that insects and ants do not enter the house. Now a days this is done away with by using paints. Beautiful designs of flowers and leaves are drawn using colourful paints.

A married woman gives Turmeric root/powder along with ‘kumkum’ to other married women  (neighbors, relatives , friends etc), during festivals after inviting them into their homes. This is done as a blessing and good wishes for the long life of the woman and her husband .

Turmeric during weddings :

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Wedding preparations start with the making of Turmeric powder at home. An auspicious day and time is chosen for the event. A few women (relatives, friends neighbors) gather and use a mortar and thistle to crush the dry Turmeric root and symbolically prepare Turmeric powder.

A lot of Turmeric powder is used during Hindu weddings. There are a minimum of  5 rituals, spread over a few days , which require the use of Turmeric powder.

Haldi Ceremony is a very important part of a Hindu wedding. The bride and groom are smeared with a paste made by mixing Turmeric powder , sandalwood paste and rose-water, in their respective homes , couple of days before the wedding. Relatives friends and neighbors gather and make it a fun event.The Bride and Groom get a beautiful glow on their skin 🙂 . . This is repeated three times on three consecutive days. A natural beauty treatment instead of going to a beauty parlour or a Spa.

The bride and groom wear clothes that have been dipped in water that is mixed with turmeric powder . The cloth then gets dyed with a light yellow color.

Turmeric powder is mixed with rice which is then called ‘Akshintalu / Akshatalu ‘. These Akshintalu are used during puja and also used to bless others by sprinkling a little on top of the head of the one taking blessings who bows down and touches the elders feet.

In South Indian weddings , this rice is taken with cupped  hands by the bride and groom and  is poured on top of each others head during the wedding ceremony.

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A long thread is smeared with Turmeric paste and a Turmeric root is tied at the center of this thread. During the wedding ceremony the groom ties this thread around the neck of the bride with three knots.

 

 

Health and Healing :

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An Indian kitchen is incomplete without Turmeric powder in its spice box. Almost all Indian recipes contain Turmeric powder.Thus ensuring that turmeric is taken everyday in our diet. Turmeric also enhances the color of the dish. The anti bacterial properties of turmeric prevents food from decaying quickly.

 

Turmeric powder is Mixed in milk and consumed in order to treat coughs and colds.

Turmeric is supposed to be good for the Liver and digestion.

Turmeric is applied to bruises as it is an antiseptic.

Small balls are made with wet Turmeric powder. A few of these are consumed in order to reduce menstrual cramps .

Turmeric is a blood thinner and reduces cholesterol. Helps in controlling Blood Pressure.

It is anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the major reason for most of the chronic diseases including Diabetes , Cardiovascular diseases , Arthritis , Cancer etc.

Curcumin induces apoptosis in tumours . It induces cell death in cancerous cells thereby stopping the multiplication of these cells.  A lot of research is being carried out and there is sufficient proof that this property of Curcumin can treat almost all types of Cancers.

Beauty Treatments :

Many South Indian women apply turmeric paste to their feet every Friday and during festivals and other religious events. Being an antiseptic it protects the feet from infections and cracked feet.

Turmeric paste mixed with other items like milk, chickpea flour etc is applied as a face mask to get rid of acne, pimples and other skin problems . It is also an excellent exfoliant and gives a glow to the skin.

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No wonder Turmeric has always been given a lot of importance in Hindu customs, traditions and rituals since a long time and is treated with piety and respect.

It is highly recommended that everyone include more Turmeric in their diet. It is also advised to prepare your own Turmeric powder instead of using the store-bought powder which is usually adulterated.

I have been using Curcumin every day since Jan 2014 , to fight Multiple Myeloma. Currently not using any other drug. Hope to manage my condition as long as I can.

~Yad Bhaavam Tad Bhavathi  : You become what you think ~


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Update on my Condition – Multiple Myeloma

It is 3 months since I had my Bone marrow test .My results were -ve , No M-spike was seen.However , my Oncologist wanted me to be back with my CBP , LFT and RPT reports after 3 months. I actually expected he would say  I can come back after one year 🙂 but he didn’t want to take any risk. So I complied. I remember him saying that after 5 years of having the Transplant (Bone marrow Transplant) , I will have to take the Bone Marrow Test once every year. For the past 5 years I have been doing the test every 6 months .

My Hb touched 11 for the first time in decades. The range for a healthy woman as per my report is 11-14. This is an achievement !! A record break !!

Yayyyy !!

My Globulin Serum too is 34 which is well within the range. A bigger achievement !!

He was very happy on seeing the reports 🙂  and exclaimed ‘you are off all medication isn’t it ?!!’.

I said “Yes Doctor, but I am continuing to take Curcumin and I am sure it is helping me “.

It is one year since I stopped chemo and taking only Ayurvedic medication.

He then asked me , “Do you think  people should go for a Bone Marrow Transplant”.

I was confused.

I immediately said “yes,  there is no other option “.

I then reminded him about the advise he gave me , after my Bone Marrow Transplant (in Jan 2011)  , about using “Tinaspora Cordifolia” , to improve my immunity. Later on , it was this advise that motivated me to look for alternative treatments and I finally found the way.

Having started using Curcumin 2 years ago ,followed by good results , I had been very eager to push Curcumin  and I wanted my Oncologist to prescribe Curcumin along with Tinaspora Cordifolia to all his other patients.In fact, I started using Curcumin, two years ago, just when I was advised to go for a second Bone marrow transplant .

The right time had arrived and I blurted out ” Doctor , you can also recommend Curcumin to other patients. I have read a lot on the Internet and it prevents and treats all types of cancers.My ayurvedic doctor gives me Tinaspora Cordifolia too ,along with Curcumin and some other herbs”

He nodded and  I felt relieved that I finally said what I wanted to say :))

It is a delicate situation wherein a patient suggests an Allopathic Doctor to prescribe Ayurvedic Medication to his other patients . I am so glad that my Oncologist is open to try out other forms of treatment and encourages his patients.

Hopefully more patients will benefit and will be encouraged to try ayurveda , the way I did.

My sincere thanks to Dr Kochar, Ayurveda and Dr Suresh , Oncologist.

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My current regimen for Multiple Myeloma

I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in Oct 2011. I Underwent Autologous Stem Cell Transplant in Dec 2011.

I was on Thalidomide from June 2012 to Dec 2014.

In Dec 2014 my plasma cells started increasing and my Oncologist suggested that I go for another Transplant. I was put on Lenolidamide.

After some research on the Internet I started taking Ayurvedic medication. After three months my condition improved.  I met Dr Kochar in Apr 2015 and started taking his medication along with Lenolidamide.

On the advise of my Oncologist , I stopped Lenolidamide in Feb 2016 , as I was in remission.

That was the most miraculous moment in my life 🙂

I continue to take Ayurvedic medication prescribed by Dr Nitin Kochar, Mumbai.

I am currently taking the following Ayurvedic medicines :

Curcumin                                                                                                                                         Ashwagandha                                                                                                                             Tinaspora cordifolia                                                                                                                     Satavari                                                                                                                                           I also take another tablet which is a mix of several herbs.

I also take allopathic supplements like Renerve (Mecobalamin), Antoxid HC (Selenium+Copper+ zinc ) , and a tablet whenever my uric acid levels are on the higher side. I also take Folvite daily.

I fast one day every week.

Exercise is always recommended but I was unable to do any form of exercise all these years as I felt weak. I now feel strong enough to go for a walk . I started going for walks since one month and I am enjoying. I currently walk a distance of 1km in 15 mins, straight after work before I go home.

I do pranayama and meditation along with few simple yogasanas in the morning before I go to work.

I also follow the diet prescribed by Dr Kochar.

keep-smiling

Dr Kochar has put a smile back on my face.

Thank you , Doctor !!


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Turmeric infused drinks , Milk shakes and coffee’s !!

Came across this article on Turmeric. My eyes and ears open wide ,whenever I come across any writeup on Turmeric. I am obsessed with Turmeric. Why not !!?  When its healing properties are being acknowledged all over the world ! And when my life is dependent on Turmeric , the Golden Spice !!

http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/Sunshine-in-a-spoon/article16931587.ece

turmeric-latte

 

Turmeric Latte ,

Turmeric Almond Milk ,

Turmeric Smoothie ,

Turmeric Tea  , Turmeric Lemonade  etc !!

Good to know that Turmeric is slowly penetrating the food industry in a different avatar.These kind of drinks will appeal to urban folks who enjoy milk shakes and varieties of coffee’s.

The benefits from consuming Turmeric are many.The antioxidant properties of curcuminoids present in Turmeric, help in preventing almost all chronic illnesses like Arthritis , Alzeimers, Diabetes, Cancer etc

Hopefully more and more people will start incorporating more turmeric in their diet and thereby eradicate these illnesses from the world.

There are lots n lots of recipes on the Internet . Check them out !!

 


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Update on my condition – Multiple Myeloma

Its been a while since I updated my status wrt Multiple Myeloma. Got the BMA, Electrophoresis and Microglobulin tests done about 10 days ago. The samples are  sent to a lab in Mumbai and it takes 7-10 days for the results to be declared.

Went to the counter in the hospital yesterday, where the Reports are to be collected. The person at the counter took almost half an hour to trace my reports. I was already tense for the last 10 days and the tension was mounting. The moment my Reports were found and handed to us , I quickly grabbed the papers and began scanning for the words ‘M Spike’ or ‘M Band’ . Found the words ‘No M Band is seen’ and heaved a sigh of relief. Quickly thanked the Almighty and then proceeded to meet my Oncologist. He took some time to read all the statistics on my reports and exclaimed ‘Wonderful !!” . Told me to meet after 3 months with my CBP,LFT and RFT reports .

What a relief !!

It’s been 5 years since I underwent an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant.

I sent a msg to my Ayurvedic doctor while we (Hubby and Dad) sat in the hospital canteen.

He was happy and congratulated me .He too had been eagerly waiting for my results.

I am off chemo since last 10 months and taking Ayurvedic medication for the last one and half years. All the credit goes to Dr Nitin for treating me and following up closely on my progress. While he feels that my faith in Ayurveda and following the protocol religiously is helping me. Yes ,ultimately it has to work both ways along with God’s grace  :))

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Yayy ..time to celebrate !! :)) with a cake :))